Puppy's Rule of 12
A puppy is most willing to try new things before she or he reaches the age of twelve weeks. The Puppy’s Rule of Twelve is a handy guideline for new puppy owners to make sure that a puppy is exposed to a variety of new things during this critical time-period. It is very important to make sure these new experiences are positive – so be ready to reward your puppy with lots of praise and super, yummy treats. If your puppy is scared or frightened by any of these, slow down, decrease distance or intensity and provide reassurance.
So, by the time your puppy has reached 12 weeks of age, try to get them introduced to the following:
Experience 12 different surfaces
Wood, woodchips, grass, asphalt/cement, tile, wet grass, rocks, gravel, dirt, mud, puddles, grates, uneven surfaces, metal, on a table, on a chair, etc.
Play with 12 different objects
Fuzzy toys, hard toys, big & small balls, funny sounding toys, wooden items, paper/cardboard items, milk jugs, metal items, etc.
Experience 12 different locations
Front yard, other people’s homes, lake, pond, river, boat, elevator, stairs, car, moving car, veterinarian (just to say “hi” & get lots of treats – no vaccinations), kennel, grooming salon (just to say “hi” & to get lots of treats – no grooming), etc.
Meet & Play with 12 different people (outside of the family)
Include children, adult men, adult women, elderly adults, people in wheelchairs, people on crutches, people with hats, people with sunglasses, etc.
Hear 12 different noises
Garage door opening, doorbell, sirens, children playing, babies crying, loud/big trucks, motorcycles, laundry machines, skateboards, shopping carts rolling, motorboats, clapping, loud singing, vacuums, lawnmowers, pan dropping, etc.
Note: It is very important to observe your puppy’s body language during this exercise to ensure he or she is not frightened or uncomfortable. Reduce the distance to the object or the level of the noise until puppy is comfortable and reward her or him with lots of super, yummy treats and praise.
Observe 12 fast moving objects (don’t allow puppy to chase)
Skateboards, roller skates, bicycles, cars, trucks, boats, people/children running, cats, wild critters, scooters, vacuums, horses running, etc.
Experience 12 different challenges
Climbing stairs, climbing off/in/around a box, going through a tunnel, climbing over obstacles, going in & out of doorways, walking on a wobbly table, playing hide-n-seek, jumping over something, getting a bath, etc.
Physical interaction with owner & family members 12 times a week
Hold under arm, hold to chest, hold on floor near owner, hold in-between owner’s legs, hold head, look in ears, hold paws, hold and take temperature (with veterinarian’s assistance), hold like a baby, hold & trim toenails (with veterinarian’s assistance), hold in lap, look in mouth, etc.
Eat from 12 different containers
Wobbly bowl, metal, cardboard, paper, coffee cup, pie plate, plastic, frying pan, KONG, dog-safe puzzle toy, spoon fed, etc.
Eat in 12 different locations
Back yard, front yard, crate, kitchen, basement, bedroom, laundry room, friend’s house, car, school, bathtub, up high (supervised), under an object, etc.
Left alone safely, away from family and other animals 12 times a week for a period of 5 to 45 minutes
Start with a short time period and gradually increase the amount time your puppy is alone.
Experience a leash and collar 12 different times in 12 different locations
Good Luck and Have Fun!!